What Is a ‘Hot Beef Sundae’? We're So Glad You Asked

Spoiler alert: It's not meat-topped ice cream

A GOP lunch menu became a hot topic on Twitter due to its contents, which included "butter cows" and a "hot beef sundae."

After the menu for a Senate GOP lunch was leaked by a Washington Post reporter, people could not get over its contents. The menu featured “fare from the Iowa State Fair” and included foods that most of the rest of the country had never heard of, including a “loaded tater tot on a stick” and “butter cows with rolls.” However, there was one item that stuck out like a hot beef sundae: the hot beef sundae.

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“what in God’s name is a HOT BEEF SUNDAE,” tweeted Twitter user @hanlitko.

“I have so many questions. Actually, just one. Wtf is a hot beef sundae?” asked Tracie Hunte.

“Pretty sure "hot beef sundae" is actually code for something sexual,” guessed another Twitter user.

“Look I don’t know what a hot beef sundae is but I’ll take one if it’s offered to me,” wrote @hypeauthor — and that was when we knew we needed to investigate.

Although unappetizingly named, a hot beef sundae is actually an Iowa State Fair staple. According to Midwestern cooking blog My Farmhouse Table, the meaty dish is meant to mimic the look of an ice cream sundae (hence the name) — but don’t worry, it doesn’t actually include any real whipped cream or sprinkles.

The sundae starts with scoops of mashed potatoes — those act as the vanilla ice cream in your ice cream sundae. Then it’s ladled with hot roast beef and gravy as the chocolate sauce. So far, if you’re not thinking about it as dessert, it’s just meat and potatoes, which is a pretty regular and tasty thing.

Your “ice cream and chocolate sauce” dish is then topped with the Midwestern staples shredded cheddar cheese (acting as “sprinkles”) and sour cream (as “whipped cream”). The dish is finished with a cherry tomato on top.


It may look pretty close to an ice cream sundae, but broken down, a hot beef sundae is just potatoes, roast beef, cheese, sour cream, and a tomato. If that doesn’t sound like something you would really ever want to eat, never fear! There’s a lot more than just hot beef sundaes in the Hawkeye state. Check out the best food and drink in Iowa.